The furor over contentious symbols is rising again, the latest case occurring in connection with Canadian truckers protesting vaccine mandates in Ottawa. The frightening hate symbols found among the truckers were described thus by Al Jazeera:
The convoy was organised by known far-right figures, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network has reported in detail. Confederate flags and at least one swastika were spotted during the first weekend of protests, drawing widespread condemnation from politicians and other observers.
Not only did Justin Trudeau loudly deplore those symbols, but the House Leader of the far-left New Democratic Party insisted that the Canadian Parliament pass a law prohibiting anyone from advertising or selling them.
This is plainly an attempt to engage in the “salami tactics” that the Communists so successfully used after World War II to take power in Eastern Europe. Salami tactics are so called because they are an attempt to cause division within an opposing political party by finding and emphasizing wedge issues that its members disagree on, effectively slicing the enemy side up into segments that oppose each other instead of working together. Unfortunately, our media-approved conservatives are falling right into their trap again by taking the bait over the Confederate flag.
Fox News tried to counter the media furor over Confederate flags and swastikas by stressing that these symbols were only rarely sighted among the truckers and that the overwhelming majority of these protesters were really nice people—salt-of-the-earth types, who presumably watch Fox News. Yet Fox commentators had no problem accepting the left’s premise that the Confederate battle flag belonged in the same category of “fascist symbols” as the swastika.
I had to shake my head in wonder why the conservative establishment decided to take this defensive, apologetic stance on the left’s ridiculous argument that whatever it happens to be attacking is equal to Hitler and Nazi genocide. The Confederate flag, after all, hung above the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia until July 2015, when the Republican governor, Nikki Haley, removed it, apparently to please the media. No one then really thought the symbol of the Southern heritage was as evil as the Nazi swastika. The swastika is associated with a movement and government that caused the deaths of tens of millions of people, and which overran and devastated an entire continent. Is the Confederate battle flag really as odious as that? I certainly never met anyone who thought that it was, even among my far-left graduate-school professors in the 1960s.
Yet the talking heads at Fox failed to use this invidious equation of the Confederate flag and the Nazi swastika to provide a teaching moment. They should have driven home the obvious fact that the two are not in any way equivalent symbols. Allowing them to appear so is an outrageous historical distortion.
One does not have to relish the Confederate cause to distinguish it from the Third Reich. Indeed, one can lament the South’s decision to secede, and one may surely disapprove of the practice of slavery. But it is madness or an act of political mischief to equate the Southern battle flag with the symbol of one of the most murderous movements in human history? Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis were hardly predecessors of Nazi leaders.
After World War II, the Communists gradually discredited all opposition on the right as tainted with fascist associations. They repeatedly characterized non-Communists as “fascist” and as being somehow related to Hitler’s Third Reich. They did it by slicing away at the margins of their opposition, turning a mainstream conservative establishment against its right flank. This resort to a fictitious guilt-by-association allowed the Communists to discredit any resistance that stood in their way while assuming total control. Critics of this strategy use the German slang term anbräunen (“browning”) to describe how the already dominant left invests everything that opposes it with the brown hue of the Brownshirts of the Third Reich.
The totalitarian left, whether Communist or woke, has never abandoned the privilege of deciding for the right what is fascist or pro-Nazi. Those who avail themselves of this privilege always conceal their ultimate end, which is total domination, achieved by smearing one’s opposition with the Nazi brush. In the end, the retreating opposition surrenders everything out of fear of being identified with fascism or its updated version of “systemic white racism.”
Here we come back to the American conservative establishment, which, despite minor skirmishes, continues to retreat until it has become, as I have noted in Chronicles, the “late-coming left.” The equation of the Confederate battle flag with the Swastika clearly represents the woke left’s attempt to “Nazify” something that it wishes to render unacceptable, and this move has met with no significant pushback.
Do Fox News conservatives find it inappropriate to make a needed distinction between a longtime American historical symbol and a symbol of genocidal crimes? Have they become so craven that even here they give ground to the left? Such gutlessness has no place in what claims to be the right. These questions needed to be addressed. Otherwise, the salami tactics will go on until an already weakened opposition no longer looks even remotely credible.